Find recent updates in the packaging industry


Define the Right Packaging Automation for your Business

Defining if Packaging Automation is Necessary is not Black or White

Making a decision about whether to implement and install packaging automation solutions and equipment at your processing and production facility is never a simple twofold.

To give a holistic analysis, you must follow some steps to determine to what level you need to automate your packaging process. Think about the following 5 questions to streamline your decision-making process and trade-off. Alternatively, you may reach to experts at ELITER Packaging Machinery to ask for advice.

tea bags cartoning packaging machinery

Topics: packaging machines, packaging automation, business and automation

Questions to Answer:

1. What Kinds of Packaging are Involved in your Production?

To decide to which level you want to automate your packaging and production, it is essential to get a structural understanding about the various types of packaging.

Apart from this basci knowledege and expertise, there is also a rigid requirements with the package. That is to say, machines usually requires the package to be as regular and standard as possible. On the contrary, the companies offering the packaging automation solutions will advise you to go for bespoke and non-standard solutions with which the cost will rocket.

Packaging can be defined into several categories:

Primary packaging

Primary packaging refers to those packages that have direct contact with the contained product.

For example:

  • the filling of yogurt into cups
  • filling of drinks and beverages
  • ready meals into trays
  • film sealing of filled trays of ready mals
  • capsules into blisters
  • filling of cereal into plastic bags
  • flow wrapping of cookies, chocolates
  • foil wrapping of chocolate balls

The primary packaging is the most basic process to provide protection to the contained product.

Secondary Packaging

Secondary packaging refers to the process where the previously formed package from primary packaging are placed and packed with a further packaging.

For example:

  • cartoning of blister packs, chocolate bars, cereal bags, to load them into carton boxes
  • sleeving of sealed ready-meal trays or yogurt cups, to wrap them with cardboard or paperboard sleeve
  • shrink wrapping of bottles of waters or beverages, to wrap them in multipack with film

Pouches cartoning machine

Tertiary Packaging

By tertiary packaging we are mostly referring to the process of case packing. The packages formed from the secondary packaging are loaded into a large and solid cardboard case in massive and thus to facilitate the  distribution to regional retailers, warehouse facilities, customers, downstream companies along the supply chain…

case packing


With above-mentioned processes, you can now determine, in the first place, to which step you want to implement packaging automation and what are the machines you have to install at your site.


2. What is your Expected Output?

Regarless of what kinds of packaging machines you have to purchase and install, figuring out the output at which the automation fits best your needs is a critical step and will place an achor approximately about how much budget you have to prepare.

In the case that you only neeed a very low overall output and speed, the packaging automation can be an over-optimization to your production. 

Think about implementing a packaging machine that costs for EUR 200.000,00 and you still set it at a speed that equals to that of manual work that calls for EUR 2.000,00 each person per month.

Bear in mind your expected rates can help with your decision making and save your budget. For example:

  • For cartoning automation within generally 100 cartons per minute, an intermittent cartoning machine is enough.
  • For automatic carton sleeving, you can turn to wrap-around sleever for faster output up to 150 sleeves per minute, or turn to cartoing machine for lower speed

If you are not able to find out the speed you want, you can start with looking for the primary packaging machine and match it with downstream machines that coordinate with its speed.


3. What are the Benefits and How Long you will Recover from the Invest?

The short answer is that you will definitely benefit from the packaging automation and recover from the invest of implementing it. But the period depends. 

The key factor is: to which level are you saving labor cost?

To put an example, you have installed an automatic sleeving machine to replace manual carton sleeve packing. The cost of the sleever is EUR 250.000,00, and you have been employing three people to do the task, each one receiving annual paying of EUR 35.000,00, you recovery term will be 250.000 / (35.000 * 3) = 2 years and 4 months, approximately.

The formula is:

Recovery Term = Cost of implementing a machine ÷  (Number of people you hire × annual payment)

This will help you with your trade-off.

However, to reach further with this topic, you should also consider the upfront expenses:

  • maintenance
  • spare parts
  • technical supports

These costs are associated with the durability and longevity of the machines. See the next part.


4. Are you Ready for Future Expenses?

To put it in a blatant way, packaging automation is not an investment once for all and forever. 

Let’s face it: Packaging automation is not cheap. And it shouldn’t be; you truly get what you pay for in this industry.

Before you really get the machine ready for a running status, costs will be:

  • Certification and verification (FDA, FTA, etc)
  • Labor cost during lead time
  • Startup and installation
  • Commissioning

The costs that will keep arising during the machine’s operation are:

  • Energy
  • Maintenance
  • Spare parts
  • Training

Always take into consideration a forcast to have a general idea of what are the extra cost and how much they will be, apart from the value of machine itself, to estimate your overall cost of the ownership.


5. Find the Reliable Manufacturer

Purchase of your desired packaging machine is not simply an issue of money. You must be with expertise to determine whether your supplier is qualified to offer you the machine you want and need.

Companies with ample budget may turn to manuafcturers in Europe or the United States, now that they have been endorsed by users all over the world and get their brand recognized internationally.

Alternatively, some may sourcing from China looking to find a cost-effective option. But be cautious, China is full of “fake manufacturer” scams where trading companies claim to be the manufacturer yet acutally produce nothing and resource and resell randomly without control.


Ready for Decision Making?

With above-mentioned 5 tips you will be prepared to elaborate your plan to look for the packaging automation solutions you need.

Still get questions? Our packaging experts are at your disposal to take you through the process and get you helpful advice.


Contact Us

Zixin Yuan
Digital Marketing Coordinator

Zhiwei Bao
General Manager

ÉLITER Packaging Machinery Co., Ltd
No.1088, Jing Ye Rd, Economic Development Zone, Dong Shan District, Ruian Wenzhou Zhejiang, China 325200
+86 (0577) 6668 2128